jackdaws_master: (Edward Swording it Up)
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Edward stepped out of Milliways and back onto the streets of Nassau Town, just outside the shop-door he'd meant to use in the first place. Adéwalé lifted an eyebrow. "Get what you needed?" he said.

"Aye," said Edward, "and what I don't need but want can wait. Come on, we've some lads to meet."

Any seaport town worth the name had taverns of varying levels of repute within easy reach of the docks. Nassau was no exception. The one Edward wanted was a hair or two nicer than the others, which was to say it had walls and a roof rather than an awning, and served more than one sort of drink. If he knew the men he was looking for at all, they'd be here.

Sure enough, the place didn't disappoint. Three men- well, two grown men, one lad just past his voice-change- were seated at a table off to one side. The tallest of the three, tanned and mutton-chopped and familiar of indeed, waved him over. "By God, you're a sight for salty eyes!" he said. "Come you in and have a drink."

Edward grinned and made his way to their table, Adéwalé trailing behind. "Morning, all."

The second of the older men, a shaggy-haired sort hard at work on a beard (and a tankard), grunted in greeting. "Ahoy Kenway," he said. He jerked his chin to Edward's companion. "Who's this?"

"Adéwalé," said Edward easily, "the Jackdaw's quartermaster."

"Jackdaw? You named your brig after a poxy bird?"

Edward ignored the sentiment. "Adé," he said, "these lads are the better part of our growing confederacy here." He indicated the bearded man. "Ed Thatch." The taller man was next. "Ben Hornigold." The youngster dipped his head as Edward finally said, "James Kidd."

If Adé had meant to say anything, it never got out; Hornigold had been eyeing him up and down. "You let him carry a pistol, do ye? " he said, sounding disgusted.

"Peace, Ben," said Edward, and held up a hand. "Adé saved my life. And now we're looking for a crew to fill out the rest of my ship."

Hornigold looked dubious, but said naught, which was all Edward wanted of him. Thatch rubbed at his chin and said, "Well, there's scores of capable men about. But use caution. A shipload of the King's sailors showed up a fortnight back, causing trouble and knocking about like they own the place."

"Right. I'll see who I can muster."

"Send any men you find to the Jackdaw," said Adéwalé. " I'll put them to work."

Edward nodded. Best not to take Adéwalé with him; the authorities- what few there were- would likely think less kindly of his situation than Ben had. But the finding of men could wait; he had a few things to inquire about first. "Once I've got my crew," he said, "I'd heard a rumour in Havana. Have you heard of a place called the Observatory?"

The young man- Kidd- nodded. "Aye," he said, in that voice all lads have when they're trying to sound a man among older men. "It's an old legend. Like El Dorado, or the Fountain of Youth."

From anyone else Edward wouldn't've taken the comment as worth hearing, but this was James Kidd, William Kidd's bastard. Even as young as this, he knew things. "What have you heard?" Edward said.

Kidd shrugged. "It's meant to be a temple or a tomb. Hiding a treasure of some kind."

"I intend to find it, then," Edward said. "It sounded well enough worth having."

Thatch snorted. "Ah, rot! It's fairy stories you prefer to gold, is it?"

"It's worth more than gold, Thatch. Ten-thousand times above what we could pull off any Spanish ship."

Hornigold shook his head. "Robbing the king to pay his paupers is how we earn our keep here, lad. That ain't a fortune, it's a fantasy."

Edward might've argued with him, but he reckoned it could wait a while. Not as if he had much to go on just yet, anyway.

--

It was no very difficult business finding men in Nassau town to crew a ship out for plunder. The ones who didn't come along for pay came along for their freedom; English soldiers weren't half so clever as they thought themselves, especially not when they had prisoners to keep track of or- ah- dancing girls to have a chat with. And most of the men were skilled sailors, too, just not so skilled at keeping themselves out of the clutches of the law. Once they gave up muttering about Adéwalé's authority, they took command and worked together well- well enough that when he turned to Hornigold, who'd come along to keep an eye on his first raids as captain, the man nodded. "A good take today, Kenway," he said. "Half-a-dozen scores of that size and you'll be set for a year."

"Sod a year," said Edward. "I'm looking for a prize that'll set me up for life. I'll be king of the West Indies then."

Hornigold's expression turned wry. "We came to Nassau to get away from the likes of kings," he pointed out.

"Well... I'll be a man of property and promise anyway."

"Jaysus, let that dream go, lad," said Hornigold. "Nassau is the place to be, not England."

"Do you ever dream of the big score? A ship so full of gold and silver you just split it and sail home?"

Hornigold shrugged. "Sure," he said, "but it's only a dream. Every man hopes to find a dozen chests of gold with no owners, but they're as rare as an honest king. Come on, now, we've got to get this brig some better parts- and Thatch wants a drink with us both."

--

They had to wait a little longer than Edward would've liked for the tides to be right, but Jackdaw eventually made her way into Nassau harbor without a hitch. Edward caught no sight of any lobsterbacks near the docks, which suited him just fine. He had, after all, a stolen cargo for his crew to offload. The ship couldn't be improved with sugar and cloth alone, but there were buyers in plenty who couldn't be bothered to ask where it all came from, so long as no one had a watchful eye on them.

Thatch was waiting for them both at the docks, counting silently over the number of bundles being offloaded by Edward's crew. He flashed a grin of approval at the younger man. "Looks like you taught him well, Ben," he called.

Hornigold nodded. "He's got a real talent for this sort of work."

"It ain't work if you love it," said Edward, and it was true enough. There was a reckless, glorious freedom to running another ship down and trading broadsides until they couldn't hold you off any longer.

"Keep this up," Hornigold said, "and Nassau'll be the first city where men and women may live as God made them: easy and free. All it takes is a few drops of blood, sweat and a swath of cloth."

Edward raised an eyebrow at that, but Thatch stepped forward and pressed a bundle into his hands. "We fly no colours out here," he said, "but praise the lack of 'em. So let the black flag signal nothing but your allegiance to man's natural freedoms. This one's yours. Fly it proud."

Well now. Edward unfolded the bundle, caught sight of the white skull and cutlasses marked against the black fabric, grinned. "I will," he promised.

Hornigold nodded. "Hand over the docket I lent you. If we're to keep our republic afloat, we'll need proper guns as well as gold."

It took a bit of fumbling through his pockets and pouches to find it, and the black flag wound up pinned between his arm and his ribs as Edward gave Hornigold the papers. "That means attacking the Navy," he felt obliged to point out.

Hornigold shrugged again. "So long as they're flying King Philip's colours, we'll not offend our own monarch."

"I believe I like your way of thinking."

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jackdaws_master: Blond scruffy guy in early 1700s clothes on a dock, looking up at something offscreen (Default)
Captain Edward Kenway

March 2014

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